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Kauai dries out after heavy rain, but more on the way

COURTESY NWS
                                This National Weather Service radar image today shows another round of potentially heavy rain approaching Kauai, which is already saturated from a storm that struck Thursday and Friday.
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COURTESY NWS

This National Weather Service radar image today shows another round of potentially heavy rain approaching Kauai, which is already saturated from a storm that struck Thursday and Friday.

Several people on Kauai needed to be rescued from floodwaters during heavy rain, authorities said Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Heavy rain beginning Thursday afternoon prompted the closure of public schools Friday across Kauai and the opening of shelters. Crews worked to reopen various roads closed from landslides, leaning utility poles and overflowing stream waters.

Firefighters were busy Thursday night rescuing people, primarily in the communities of Koloa and Wailua, Kauai Emergency Management Administrator Elton Ushio said. He did not yet have an estimate of many people needed to be rescued or evacuated. But he noted that there was a report of 4 feet of water in at least one house.

“And these are residential areas where at first the water was starting to rise up, and then it started approaching, you know, getting up to the lower level of the houses in several cases, getting up and into the houses themselves, where people needed to be, you know, taken out of those houses,” he said.

Kauai residents are used to rain, and this event wasn’t as bad as rainstorms in in 2018 that generated a national 24-hour rainfall record, Ushio said.

Kauai is “one of the wettest spots on Earth, in terms of annual rainfall,” he said. “All our lush valleys, deep canyons … it’s because of the rainfall we get.”

The rain’s peak intensity was from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, with several locations seeing more than 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Rainfall at Lihue airport — the island’s only official record-keeping station — broke a 1996 record with 3.65 inches for Thursday, said Derek Wroe, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Honolulu office.

That record would likely be broken again for Friday, based on the more than 11 inches recorded during the 12-hour period from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Lihue airport, Wroe said.

The rain tapered off after sunrise Friday, but heavy showers were expected tonight into Sunday morning, bringing the threat of more flooding, he said.

The weather service today issued a flash flood watch for Niihau and Kauai from midight Saturday through late Sunday night.

“A slow moving front will produce heavy showers and thunderstorms over Kauai County. Due to pre-existing wet soil conditions any additional heavy rainfall will quickly lead to runoff and flash flooding concerns,” forecasters said.

The weather system that drenched Kauai is expected to move east over the island chain, starting with Oahu Sunday evening. However forecasters say the intensity of the showers will decrease as the system moves beyond Kauai.

“Wet weather conditions will begin to improve by Monday morning with decreasing rainfall amounts,” they said.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser staff contributed to this report.


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